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Head of Romanov Family Association to visit St. Petersburg on July 15

Duchess Olga Andreyevna is Nicholas II’s grandniece

St PETERSBURG, July 3. /TASS/. The head of the Romanov Family Association, Duchess Olga Andreyevna, is expected to visit St Petersburg on the eve of the centenary anniversary since the execution of Russia’s last Czar Nicholas II and his family, the official representative of the association in the Russian Federation, Ivan Artsishevsky told reporters on Tuesday.

"Olga Andreyevna and her daughter Alexandra arrive in St Petersburg on a private visit on July 15," he said. "On July 17, she will attend a memorial service in honor of the regal martyrs and confessors at the St Peter and Paul’s Cathedral [the burial place of the Romanov dynasty Czars as of the early 18th century - TASS]."

The duchess and other members of the Romanov family do not plan to visit Yekaterinburg in the Urals where Nicholas II, Czarina Alexandra, their five children and four assistants were executed by shooting in the small hours of July 17, 1918.

"She comes only to St Petersburg because this is a principled stance and most members of the family won’t go to Yekaterinburg," Artsishevsky said.

However, members of two branches of the Romanovs - Kulikovskys and Romanov-Ilyinskys - have decided to attend the remembrance ceremonies in Yekaterinburg, he said.

Duchess Olga Andreyevna is Nicholas II’s grandniece. Her father, Duke Andrei Alexandrovich, was a grandson of Emperor Alexander III who in his turn was the father of the slain last Russian Czar.

The forthcoming visit will be the first one for her in the capacity of the head of the Romanov Family Association but she has come to Russia on several occasions in the past.

Nicholas II abdicated the throne in mid-February 1917. He and members of the Imperial Family were taken to Siberia forcibly soon after that.

Overnight to July 17, 1918, a squad of revolutionary Bolsheviks executed the Czarist family by shooting in the basement floor of a mansion that had previously belonged to mining engineer Nikolai Ipatyev.

The list of individuals they put to death included Czar Nicholas II, Czarina Alexandra, Crown Prince Alexis, Grand Princesses Olga, Tatiana, Maria, and Anastasia, the family physician Eugene Botkin, the Czarina’s chambermaid Anna Demidova, the court chef Ivan Kharitonov, and the Czar’s footman Alexei [Aloise] Trupp.

Investigator Nikolai Sokolov, who worked for Admiral Kolchak’s interim government and who investigated the case from 1919 through to 1924, when he died a highly mysterious death, established that the masterminds of the heinous crime had destroyed the bodies of members of the Imperial Family by burning. He also found that the technological process involved the dry rectified oil of vitriol.

However, as of the 1920’s certain groups of experts on criminalistics, monarchists, historians, and clergy began to come up occasionally with the conclusions that either the executed members of the family had been buried or else some of the Romanovs - most typically, Anastasia or Alexis - had survived the ordeal.

On June 1, 1979, detective and scriptwriter Geliy Ryabov and geologist Alexander Avdonin discovered a grave containing the remains of several people in the marshy area known as Piglet’s Meadow near Sverdlovsk [the Soviet-era name of Yekaterinburg - TASS]. Proceeding from the data available to them, they made a supposition that this was the mass grave of the Imperial Family.

The officially authorized breakup of the grave took place only in 1991 and the remains of nine people were found inside.

In August 1993, the Prosecutor General’s Office instituted a criminal case over the death of the Romanovs and the assistants who had accompanied them.

After several genetic studies in the UK, the US and Russia, the state commission in charge of investigation said that, with a high degree of probability, the remains were those of Czar Nicholas’s family.

The problem, however, was that the remains of Crown Prince Alexis and Grand Princess Anastasia [Grand Princess Maria in the US version] were never found.

The burial of the identified remains took place in the St Peter and Paul’s cathedral in St Petersburg. The organizers of the event said that placed to final rest there were Nicholas II, Czarina Alexandra, their three daughters, and four assistants.

The Russian Church expressed strong doubts regarding the identity of bodily fragments found near Yekaterinburg and abstained from any ceremonies related to the burial procedures.

The Russian Church canonized the Czar, the Czarina and their five children in 2000 as the new holy martyrs who had accepted torturous death for confessing Jesus Christ.

Fragments of bones and teeth of a woman and a child were unearthed on July 29, 2007, during archeological excavations to the south of the site where the remains of the Romanovs and their assistants had been found previously. The new finds had the signs of exposure to super-high temperatures.

To establish the supplementary circumstances of the Romanovs’ death, the authorities resumed preliminary investigation. They sent the samples of the remains to Russian and foreign laboratories. The Investigative Committee received the results of the studies but the Russian Church once again voiced its doubts over whether the bodily fragments were those of the Czar’s daughter and son.